Wednesday, December 31, 2008

goals not resolutions

I'm not too crazy about the idea of resolutions. I understand that the new year feels like a clean slate and a chance to start fresh. But my best weight loss period started on February 15th one year because that was when I was motivated. So I'm not one to make a list of resolutions on new year's eve. I'd rather start when I'm ready, not because of the date on the calendar.

That said, this time of year does provide a little incentive for some projects because of the days off. Even with travel to see family, I have more consecutive days off than usual. My office is closed from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day, so I feel like I should take advantage of the time to jump start the organization that our house needs.

Hopefully, all of the presents will have found a home by the time we go to bed tonight. I'm about 60% done, but the dining room table is still half full. All of Heather's new clothes are in the dryer and most of the toys have been unpacked. I just need to distribute them to different rooms and make sure that we have enough bins that everything can be put away when we want to straighten up and not trip over duplos and plastic forks and blocks.

The main task is dealing with my stuff. The general house stuff is in pretty good shape. We aren't always good at putting everything away when we're done with it, and there are some cabinets and drawers that could use a spring cleaning, but the big issue for me is my stuff. The stuff in the dressing room, my clothes and the stuff in my room/office. I need to go through it, toss what I can, store what I don't regularly need and organize the things I want access to. The hope is that my current room could become emptied by half so there is some space for the baby. My space and/or Heather's room will eventually move up to the third floor, but not until the front room is patched up and finished. We're hoping to do that this spring with the help of the grandfathers, but I want to have back-up plans in case the changes to the grandfather's employment status prevents the work from happening. But in the end, we can make a decision on where things go and that room can't be cleaned well until I deal with my stuff. And it has been hard enough to get to it with one child, if I don't deal with it now that room is destined to stay like that for years!

The other goal is to improve the meal planning and grocery shopping process each week. Adding some recipes to my rotation, making time to plan once a week and making some meals in advance to freeze will be added gradually to my existing responsibilities. We aren't eating badly now, but it could be better planned and more interesting.

Well, I'm off to fold some laundry and start dealing with my stuff while Heather naps. :-)

(Once I get access to the picture archive again there will be knitting photos to share of presents and my two main current projects)
Heather's favorite question right now - 'What's Heather doing?'

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A bit of Christmas

It's hard to imagine how I can wrap up the last few days.  I don't have access to all of the pictures at the moment and I don't think I'd want to put them all in a blog post anyway.  You'll have to keep an eye on our flickr accounts.  :-)

First, the funny picture post I alluded to last week.  We took Heather to see Santa a few days before Christmas at Phipps.  In typical toddler fashion, she went on and on about going to see santa, and was impatient when we were standing in line even though the line wasn't that long (she was anxious to go back to see the trains).  She seemed happy when it was our turn, but then daddy put her on Santa's lap.

R and I really don't try to take blackmail quality photos, but sometimes they just fall in your lap.

Christmas morning Heather probably would have been happy just getting the Big Bird sticking out of her stocking, and after a few more presents from the stocking she was more interested in playing than opening.  But we alternated playing with opening, and she allowed mommy, daddy, bapa and nana to open presents for her, so since everyone else opened stockings and presents while she played we were able to sit down to breakfast after about 2 1/2 hours.  :-)

Her biggest present from Santa was her play kitchen.

She got lots of great presents at four different celebrations - Christmas morning at home, Christmas night at the ILs, Saturday morning at nana's parents and saturday night with bapa's mother.  She got babies, puzzles, a beautiful stool, books, clothes (yay!  no more running out of clothes once a week!), a train set, and kitchen name a few.  There is lots of stuff, but since R and I weren't overwhelmed with presents it doesn't feel as overwhelming overall.  And there aren't a lot of big toys, which is nice.

I took 3 diaper boxes of toys and a few books upstairs to storage on Christmas Eve, so I think we can avoid feeling like a small toy store when we unpack everything next week.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from western PA! We alternated between opening and playing with gifts and heather seemed to have lots of fun this morning. Two celebrations down and two to go!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Admittedly boring post

I've got no pictures and this is just a "what I've been up to" post. But I'm excited about my accomplishments, so I'm going to share anyway. Feel free to skim or skip. I promise that the next post will be more fun.

- I'm thrilled that the holiday cards went into the mailbox this morning! It was absolutely fabulous to print the address labels with the computer and I just wish I would have done it all earlier. Starting on Friday after work and finishing on Sunday night at 10:30 meant that I spent almost all of my free moments this weekend doing the cards, and I only wrote a sentence or two on each one. So it wasn't really *that* time consuming, but it was a lot for one weekend.

- I also finished the presents for the daycare teachers. I finished the primary knitting on Friday night and had to wash, block, embroider and photograph this weekend. I gave an extra one of the mug cozies to one of my coworkers in a secret santa exchange on Friday and she was using it this morning, so I expect them to be a hit. :-)

- I wrapped all of the presents that aren't pictures, which basically took the entire length of Heather's nap on Saturday.

- We went to the grocery store, and we have boring dinner food for the next couple of nights, an orange for Heather's stocking, christmas eve dinner food and christmas morning food.

- I did cast on Amelia after I finished the embroidery on the mug cozies. I had to make sure I had something to knit on the bus today and tomorrow! :-) Pictures as soon as I have more than a couple inches of knitting done.

Left to do - print and wrap pictures, assemble Heather's big present, and clean up the house!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Just a little "yes, I'm here" post. It has been a super busy week at work for multiple reasons, but as of this moment I'm caught up on my hours for this pay period and I have one more day of busy/somewhat stressful work tomorrow (shored up by some work this evening now that Heather is in bed, but it is worth it because I would rather do work tonight than have to do it this weekend). Next week I just have 1 1/2 days of work to do before our christmas lunch on Tuesday afternoon, and none of it should be deadline work, so that's good.

I still haven't gotten to the christmas cards, but since I figured out the label thing I'm not to stressed about that. It's still going to take some time this weekend, but it's manageable. And everything else left to do for christmas feels pretty manageable, too.

Hopefully I'll get caught up on my knitting photography and project posting over the holidays. And we shall see if I'm inspired to finish some works in progress or start new things or both when I get some free time again!

Hope you all have an easy Friday and a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I just thought of one of my favorite recent Heather quotes that I left off of yesterday's list. She has said it in the morning while driving to school with her daddy.

"Mommy's on a bus."

Correct and appropriately timed!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

A Monday in December

It seems like there is a lot to post and I've got a lot to do today, so I'm just going to leave this window open and add things as I think of them during the day. Maybe I'll be able to cover all of my bases that way. There haven't been a lot of pictures taken lately, so text will have to do.

1 - It was a pretty low key weekend. Heather woke up under the weather on Friday morning. R and I took shifts staying home with her, and she really didn't get back to herself until about half an hour before bedtime on Sunday night. She wasn't totally miserable...just irritable, tired and without much of an appetite. But she was drinking well and she did eat a bit. I think it was most concerning for us because she usually bounces back after a long nap and/or a good night's sleep...which she had on friday, saturday and sunday...but it wasn't until dinnertime on Sunday that she started being her silly self again.
While we were definitely sad to lose out on a weekend with fun Heather, we're happy that she's recovered and didn't get sick for more of the week when we're both very busy at work. (And our fingers are crossed that daycare won't call this afternoon.)
As always happens whenever Heather is sick, my heart really goes out to parents who deal with chronic or regular illnesses in their children. Despite the crud that has been brought home from daycare, in general we've been really lucky and Heather seems to have inherited the relatively strong immune system of her parents. And we're blessed that she is so healthy in general. Knowing the stress that loomed over me all weekend waiting for her to feel better for a relatively minor condition, it's difficult to imagine dealing with that on a regular basis.

2 - I can't even describe to you how incredible it is to hear Heather talk each day. There are still certainly words and phrases that we don't understand, but it seems like there is so much that we do it is just amazing. Maybe if I had a notebook tied around my neck I could record it all, but even then I doubt it. There are lots of times that she will repeat most of a sentence that we've just said (she used to repeat just the last word or two). Some recent examples of sentences she's come up with on her own:

"Nora looking Heather's Christmas (KIH-MAS) tree"
"Money in Heather's piggy bank"
"Come here Stewart"
"Mommy doing?"
"Nana Bapa coming soon" (Nana and Bapa are my parents)
"There is Heather's garbage truck" (replace garbage truck with the noun of your choice)
"Daddy walking snow"

3 - Current favorite activities:

- Watching the garbage truck go by on Monday mornings. If we get up early enough we can see it go in front of the house and in the alley behind.
- Putting money in her piggy bank
- Playing with play-doh
- Using her blocks to make a house for Elmo (he is the only figure special enough for this privilege
- Walking in the snow
- Eating Mac'n'Cheese
- Examining the ornaments and lights on the Christmas tree
- Singing her ABCs, she also likes it when daddy and mommy sing it to her or with her

4 - Christmas
I've purchased everything for Christmas but one secret santa gift and the stamps for the christmas cards. I even bought wrapping paper this weekend and all of Heather's stocking stuffers. We'll be keeping the UPS man and the staff at Mailsmart busy this week as everything I ordered online rolls in. I think we're done decorating, although R might put lights up in one or two more windows. But the trees are decorated, the banister is decorated, the mantle is decorated and I came up with a system for displaying christmas cards that I like better than last year. I'm ready for the christmas bins to leave the dining room. :-)
Trying to print address labels is proving to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated, but I'm going to keep trying to figure it out because it seems like less of a hassle than address 130+ cards by hand. I still have hope that I'll get them mailed by Monday...
I think I'm feeling the same way this year that I felt last year. I'm so excited about Heather's presents that I'm not even really thinking about what I might get. Few family members asked what I wanted, so I suppose I'll be getting things from my amazon list and gift cards. But honestly, that's fine with me. Other than some springy maternity clothes, I really don't feel like I need much. I'm still feeling overwhelmed by the stuff I already have, so I don't want a lot more. :-)
I haven't figured out the timing yet (Christmas Eve or before?), but R and I do need to go through Heather's toys and remove (read: hide on the 3rd floor) some of the stuff that she's getting too old for or that she doesn't play with much anymore. With new stuff coming in, we need to make room in the three primary toy areas.

(ETA - No offense to Open Office, but I took a few minutes to try to make labels in Microsoft Office and I had no trouble figuring it out. So except for the 4-5 addresses that need to be confirmed, my labels are ready to print now - yay!)

5 - Knitting
4 of the 5 teacher gifts are done minus blocking and embroidery, and I think I'm going to make two more for friend gifts since they're so fast and useful...and maybe one for me, too. :-)
The swatch for Amelia is done and washed. I'm debating between size 2 and size 4 needles. Based on the pre-blocking measurements, I'm either getting 24 or 26 stitches to 4 since I have to do math either way (the pattern is for 20 stitches to 4 inches) I might as well decide which fabric I like better. I think I'm leaning toward the size 2. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm a super loose knitter and I'd rather knit an extra few hundred or thousand stitches and get a sweater I love than be stingy and get a sweater that is just so-so...and I tend to prefer a more structured fabric. But I haven't studied the washed and blocked swatch yet or done any math, so the decision is subject to change. (I probably won't give myself permission to go back to this until the teacher gifts and christmas cards are done...)

6 - Facebook
I've been sucked in. My knitting group decided that we should use facebook to plan our events so that no one has to be saddled with sending out evites and we can chat between events without filling up everyone's email boxes. Plus, people can come and go as they please instead of having one person responsible for keeping the email list.
Pro - I've caught up with some college friends that I've been meaning to be better about communicating with.
Con - It's just one more thing to make my "internet life" more time consuming.
Given these two thoughts, I'm mostly limiting myself to communication. I'm keeping most of my picture posting on flickr, I'm keeping knitting content on ravelry, I'm keeping most of my thoughts and comments here, and I'm just using facebook for chatting with people that I really want to chat with. In other words, I'm not going to friend everyone I've ever met. No offense to anyone, but I have no desire to maximize my friends to the point that it is hard to keep up with the people I really want to read about.

7 - The Muppet Movie
Heather and I watched about half of the movie yesterday after her nap. She seemed to enjoy most of it. She got impatient during the Doc Hopper scenes (can't blame her), she liked the froggys (Kermit and Robin) and she liked it when Fozzie said "Wakka wakka wakka". :-) That scene could have lasted longer in her opinion.
I was also pleased to discover that I still know all the words to "The Rainbow Connection". :-) Not bad considering that it's been almost 10 years since I graduated from college.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick Update

I stayed up too late last night, but since I was productive I don't feel as bad about it. Both trees are now decorated with ornaments!

So except for fixing the lights already stranded on the banister (half of them are out now), I am done decorating for christmas - yay! There are still lots of household chores to do, but it feels good to get one checked off the list instead of spending 8-11pm on the computer, and being annoyed with myself for not being productive and for staying up too late.

(Image stolen from R's blog)

I cast on a gauge swatch for Amelia this morning on the bus. Just a quick break between daycare teacher presents. I'm 90% sure that I need to go down a few needle sizes and math is going to be required to substitute this yarn. But I think it will totally be worth it, and it will make for some great holiday car travel knitting!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I think I found it...

I'll have to see how my gauge works out, but I think I finally found the right sweater pattern for the sweater's worth of hand-painted wool and silk yarn that has been marinating in my stash for 3-4 years. It has just enough variegation that I don't think it works well with a lace or cable pattern, but I haven't been able to find a cardigan pattern (until now) with enough interest for me but not too much for the yarn. A pattern that could flatter my curves, be professional enough for work and be something that I really wanted to make. There are simple cardigan patterns out there that would work, but nothing was really making me as excited as I've always been about the yarn.

The best (?) part is that I don't have to wait until after the pregnancy to make and wear it because it only buttons at the chest. If only I could go home and cast on my gauge swatch RIGHT NOW.

Meet my new friend Amelia.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Finishitis and Startitis

Last night I finished the baby/toddler sweater I've been focused on for the past couple of weeks, except for weaving in the ends and giving it a bath. But I can't post a picture yet because mama is a blog reader. I'll try to get a photo up for those of you on ravelry.

I like the feeling of finishing something. And my current focus is on baby hats (however many I can get out of my skein of yarn) for, which are sure to give me more finishing satisfaction in the next few days.

I'm once again feeling like I simultaneously have startitis and finishitis, so I'm trying to focus on the finishitis to clear the nearly-complete and small holiday knitting projects from my queue, and then I can cast on a bunch of projects for me and Heather, and return to Babette. This is the plan, at least. As I was finishing the fair isle sweater over the last few days, I started picturing one for Heather. So that, and a sweater for me out of whatever yarn strikes me the most when I go stash diving are definitely at the top of the list.

The only true holiday knitting I need to do is a series of gifts for Heather's teachers. I'm going to knit coffee cup cozies for them and embroider Heather's symbol on them. (Sure, it will be another child's symbol next year, but embroidering flowers on them makes more sense than putting her name on them.) I might also include a starbucks card or a few packets of hot cocoa. TBD based on what I can find when I go shopping for the mugs. :-)

If I'm in the mood for some small knitting, I might also start making some tree ornaments and I have a vague notion about a knitted advent calendar and tree skirt (inspired by a friend). But those are only ideas for if and when the mood strikes and not anything I *have* to do this year. I'd also like to do some festive knitted stockings eventually, since we have 6 mantles in our house and only enough stuff to decorate one or two of them.

As usual, what actually gets knitted will depend on the amount of time I have available to plan at the moment when I can start a new project...and how much of Heather's sleeping time I spend doing the chores that I really should be doing instead of knitting!

Monday, December 01, 2008

I've done it

I'm listening to Christmas music today. :-) Not sure yet if it is improving my productivity, but it certainly isn't hurting!

Heather is a fan of the Christmas tree again this year, although she's been similarly enthralled by the ladder, too. Hopefully I'll get to the ornaments soon and we can get that out of the way.

I'm working on my address list now for Christmas cards, so if you don't think we have your current address, you should email it to me asap! I can't wait to get those finished. I don't want another December where they hang over my head all month. Or another trip to see family when I have to bring them with me to finish...